By Elsa Schutt
Alligators lurking to feed.
Light glimmers off crushed soda cans in Mike's truck.
Dust rises in outrage as a beat-up Chevrolet peters by.
In the Post Office, America stands, handing us our
her thick Southern accent is sweet tea.
Khaki pants are stained with brownish-red clay,
under boot soles just hangin' out.
Country roads wind side to side
taking sharp drops over rolling hills.
Dirt roads entice cars to follow, leading mysteriously off the
yet overgrown weeds and thick branches block the way.
Sunday sounds of church bells, voices of the gospel
echo through Dollar General,
through the chip-stacked Piggly Wiggly.
"Amens" buzz in Jenny's Fried Chicken like cicadas
on a humid day.
I herd horses back to their bay-filled barn, my own praying,
watching the last light as it casts a pattern of shadows.
Sun now peeks through bullet holes,
scattered across twinkling blood-red stop signs,
mobile homes, rundown houses sit on the side of the road,
waiting for someone...
We walk into a gas station,
A week later the owner was
We return, buying the usual Alabama Bubble Gum,
Ella Fitzgerald playing faintly on his old radio,
wrapping us in her soft, soothing voice.
We drop a dollar in the tip jar, his smile stretches to his cheeks
speaking the words "God Bless You."
First Place: Elsa Schutt